Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fair Chance Act - Proposed Legislation in the Senate and House

An estimated 70 million people in the United States - nearly one in three adults - have a prior arrest or conviction record. Congress believes that a conviction in one's past shouldn't be a life sentence to joblessness and is following many states lead by introducing legislation to give everyone an opportunity to work for a better life.

Two bills have been introduced that, if passed, will prohibit Federal agencies and Federal contractors from requesting that applicant for employment disclose criminal history record information before the applicant has received a conditional employment offer. These bills are Senate Bill S.842 and House Bill H.R. 1905.

A "conditional offer" means an offer or employment in a position that is conditioned upon the results of a criminal history inquiry.

Application to Government Contractors

Under these bills, executive agencies;

  1. May not require that an individual or sole proprietor who submits a bid for a contract to disclose criminal history record information regarding that individual or sole proprietor before determining the apparent awardee and
  2. Shall require as a condition of receiving a Federal contract and receiving payments under such contract that the contractor may not verbally, or through written form, request the disclosure of criminal history record information regarding an applicant for a position related to work under such a contract before the contractor extends a conditional offer to the applicant.

There are exceptions where consideration of criminal history record information prior to a conditional offer with respect to the position is required by law. There are also exceptions with respect to contracts that required access to classified information or involve law enforcement or national security duties.

Should contractors violate these prohibitions, the bills contain penalties of increasing severity ranging from written warnings to suspending payments, to contract termination.

Under this law, Government contractors would make employment decisions without regard to an applicants criminal background. After a conditional offer, the contractor would request criminal background information and judge, based on the severity of that criminal background, whether to withdraw the conditional offer.

Something more for HR departments to worry about.

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